Fox News' Chris Wallace Challenges Lindsey Graham on his 1998 Claim That Ignoring Subpoenas Is Impeachable

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Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday forced Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to watch a 1999 clip of himself saying that ignoring subpoenas may be impeachable. Fox News/Screenshot

Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday forced Senator Lindsey Graham to watch a 1998 clip of himself talking about the dangers of ignoring subpoenas from Congress during an era when he was leading the impeachment effort against former President Bill Clinton.

During Graham's appearance on Fox News Sunday earlier today, Wallace challenged the Republican senator on his past comments about impeachment, which appears to contradict his current stance on calls by Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump.

"You call all of what's going on in Washington a political circus, but you took a different view back when you were leading the impeachment effort against Clinton back in the late '90s. At that time, you said that any president, and you talked specifically about Clinton and Richard Nixon, who defied Congress when it came to subpoenas was in danger of impeachment," Wallace said, before airing an old clip of Graham's comments made in Capitol Hill.

"You're becoming the judge and jury. It is not your job to tell us what we need. It is your job to comply with the things we need to provide oversight over you," Graham can be seen saying in the December 18, 1998 clip. At the time, he was a member of the House of Representatives and one of the managers — de facto prosecutors — in Clinton's impeachment trial before the Senate.

"Question: Why is it an impeachable offense for Clinton or Nixon back then to ignore congressional subpoenas but it's okay for President Trump to do now?" the host asked Graham.

"Well, there's two things here," Graham explained. "[Special Counsel Robert] Mueller's investigation was a special counsel appointed to find out if the president committed a crime; if he colluded with the Russians; if he obstructed justice. The president gave 1.4 million documents to Muller. Everybody around the president was allowed to testify. He never claimed executive privilege. He complied, no cover-up, worked with Mueller. Mueller's the final word on this for me."

"If Clinton had stiffed Ken Starr, that's different," the Republican senator continued. "What [Democratic House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold] Nadler is doing is trying to destroy the president and his family. If I were the president, I would fight back against this political revenge coming out of the House."

"Mueller was the man of the law. Mueller was an independent voice that we all trusted to be fair. I don't trust House Democrats to be fair. They're trying to redo the Mueller report, they're trying to make up other stuff and at the end of the day, it will be political suicide for them to impeach," he added.

Graham's comments came amid a tense battle between House Democrats and the Trump administration over the former's subpoenas for more information on Mueller's Russia report.

Attorney General William Barr provided Congress with his summary of Mueller's report on March 24, two days after the special counsel finalized his findings. In the four-page document, Barr said Mueller neither exonerated nor indicted Trump with regard to whether he obstructed justice, but the attorney general indicated he saw no grounds to pursue criminal proceedings against the president.

However, when Mueller's 448-page redacted report was released roughly a month later, it painted a hazier picture for Trump with regard to obstruction. While Mueller's team did not directly accuse the president of a crime, it revealed ample evidence of wrongdoing by the president and his inner circle, dating from his 2016 presidential campaign to current day.

"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state," the special counsel's report read. "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."